The Best Guide for How to Freeze Marinated Chicken

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Can you freeze marinated chicken? The answer is yes. We’re going to show you exactly how! Discovering the best way to freeze marinated chicken can be a game-changer for busy weeknights or meal prep sessions. We’ll cover the ins and outs of how to freeze marinated chicken effectively, ensuring maximum flavor and convenience.

Related: California chicken recipe

How to freeze marinated chicken Pinterest pin.

Why you Should Know How to Freeze Marinated Chicken

Freezing marinated chicken can be a smart strategy for meal planning and time-saving for several reasons. Firstly, marinating adds great flavor and makes the chicken tender, enhancing the taste of the dish. Marinating and then freezing chicken is a great idea because, you’re preparing it for future meals, cutting down on the time needed for meal prep on busy days. Other benefits of knowing how to freeze marinated chicken include:

  • Extended Shelf Life: Freezing marinated chicken extends its shelf life, preserving its quality and preventing it from spoiling. This allows you to buy chicken in bulk or take advantage of sales without worrying about it going bad before you can use it.
  • Batch Cooking: You can prepare large batches of chicken at once and freeze reasonable portions for later use. This batch cooking approach saves time and effort in the long run, as you can thaw and cook portions as needed without having to repeat the marinating process every time.
  • Reduced Food Waste: Freezing marinated chicken or any other marinated meat helps reduce food waste by preserving it for future use. Instead of letting excess chicken go to waste, you can freeze it for later consumption, minimizing the need to throw away unused portions.

What Kind of Chicken Can you Use?

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Bone-in chicken
  • Chicken thighs
  • Chicken legs
  • Chicken wings

Preparing Chicken for Freezing

These are a few steps you want to take before you set out to transform your boring chicken into flavorful chicken that can be enjoyed at a later date: 

  1. Selecting Fresh Chicken: Start with fresh, high-quality chicken. Choose chicken pieces that are free from any bruises, discoloration, or off odors. 
  2. Trimming and Cleaning: Trim excess fat or skin from the raw chicken as desired.
  3. Choosing the Right Packaging: Have your freezer container of choice ready to go. Different packaging options to consider: vacuum-sealed bags, freezer-safe airtight container or a resealable plastic bag.  

Marinating Process

Marinating chicken or any cut of meat, is a great way to inject your protein of choice with a lot of flavor! With so many different marinades to choose from, it can be difficult to choose one.

If you need a quick, no-fuss marinade to spruce up plain chicken breasts, consider using store bought Italian dressing. You may need more than one bottle, depending on the volume of meat you plan on marinating. You could also season your chicken with a dry rub instead. If you prefer a homemade marinade, consider making the one that we used in our California chicken recipe. We would go as far to say that it’s one of the most easy chicken marinade recipes that you can make. It’s an olive oil and balsamic vinegar based recipe that yields enough liquid to cover a little over a pound of chicken breasts. 

Adding seasonings to balsamic vinegar marinade.

1. Make a batch of your own marinade. Set it aside. 

Raw chicken breasts in a freezer bag. Steps for how to freeze marinated chicken.

2. Place chicken into your freezer-safe packaging of choice. For this example, we’re using disposable freezer bags. 

Pouring balsamic marinade into freezer bag with chicken breast.

3. Pour the marinade into the bag and over the chicken. Ensure that there is complete coverage of the chicken breast or whatever type of chicken you end up using. 

Marinade and chicken in freezer bag. Marinated chicken is prepped for freezing.

4. Remove as much air from the bag as possible and seal it, tightly. Doing this will help prevent ice crystals from forming on your chicken. 

How to Freeze Marinated Chicken

  1. Labeling and Dating: Clearly label each package with the contents, date frozen, and any other relevant information about the freezer marinade or seasoning used. This makes it easier to identify and use the chicken later.
  2. Freezing: Place the packaged chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray to initially freeze them. Once frozen solid, you can stack them to save space in the freezer.
Sharpies used for labeling marinated chicken for freezing or other meats, foods and liquids.

Whether you’re heating up the grill pan or choosing an oven-roasting cooking method, unlocking the potential of marination can transform plain poultry into sensational chicken dinners.

How to Thaw Frozen Chicken

Thawing frozen chicken safely is important to avoid the risk of foodborne illness. Here are a few safe methods:

  • Refrigerator: Thawing chicken in the refrigerator is the safest method because it maintains a consistent, safe temperature. Place the frozen chicken in a dish or container to catch any drips, and then place it in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf or in a designated thawing section. Allow enough time for the chicken to thaw completely, typically overnight or for several hours depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
  • Cold Water: If you need to thaw chicken more quickly, you can use the cold water method. Place the frozen chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag to prevent water from entering, and then submerge the bag in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to ensure it stays cold. Thawed chicken should be cooked immediately when using this method.
  • Cooking from Frozen: In some cases, you can cook chicken from frozen without thawing it first. This method works well for chicken pieces or smaller cuts. Simply adjust the cooking time to ensure the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature (165°F or 75°C) throughout.

Regardless of the method you choose, it’s essential to cook thawed chicken promptly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Never thaw chicken at room temperature, as it increases the risk of bacterial growth. Additionally, always use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature before consuming it.

California chicken on a grill pan.

Follow these simple steps for how to freeze marinated chicken to ensure a steady supply of chicken with delicious flavors ready to elevate your weeknight dinners.

Food Safety

  • Ensure the dish reaches a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C) when cooking.
  • Avoid using the same utensils on cooked food that have come into contact with raw meat.
  • Remember to wash your hands after handling raw meat.

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